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Brics Summit to focus on $100bn developmental bank

Brics leaders are in the Russian city of Ufa for a special summit.

Brics leaders. Picture: GCIS.

PRETORIA - The operationalisation of the $100 billion new development bank is the focal point of the leaders of Brics at their summit today.

Each of them has a specific goal for their countries as they face growing challenges as the planet's fastest developing economies.

President Jacob Zuma is looking to bring back tangible benefits to his people when he comes home from the remote Russian city of Ufa.

He is representing the entire African continent at the summit, the continent that accounts for mere 2 percent of global economic output.

Zuma is expecting the Brics bank to become an alternative source of funding for the infrastructure projects, necessary to change the picture.

Real improvements will however will depend on not on a new bank or other but on the political will and Africans giving themselves democratic ability to open markets and compete.

Meanwhile, South Africa and Russia signed two memoranda of understanding on nuclear power cooperation on Wednesday, part of efforts by Africa's most advanced economy to lessen its reliance on coal and overcome power shortages that threaten economic growth.

The agreements, signed at the summit of emerging BRICS nations in Ufa, Russia, are between Russia's state-run nuclear energy company Rosatom and South Africa's department of energy.

They call for joint projects to educate and encourage "public acceptance of nuclear power" in South Africa, the South African department of energy said in a statement.

They will also include programmes for training specialists in South Africa's nuclear industry.

South Africa is considering using reactors from Russia's Rosatom and Westinghouse for its planned 9,600 megawatt nuclear fleet expansion, an energy advisor to the government said in June.

The country plans to build six new nuclear power plants by 20h30 at an estimated cost of between R400 billion and R1 trillion.

Critics contend South Africa cannot afford the price tag against the backdrop of rising debt and sluggish economic growth, which is constrained by power shortages that trigger periodic rolling blackouts.

The government has said South Africa needs to not only expand its capacity but also diversify its power mix from coal, which provides over 85 percent of the country's energy needs.

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